CHAPTER FIFTEEN: The Swim

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN: The Swim

Story blew on her burnt fingertips while Eirnin sat next to her, laughing softly.

“Didn’t anyone ever teach you to let the food cool down a bit before you make a grab for it? Really Story, how did you make it past childhood?”

She stuck her tongue out at him, and he grinned in return before handing back her now cool piece of corn bread. “Careful, or you’ll burn your tongue too if you leave it hanging out like that.”

Adair and Eilath both joined the laughter this time. They were eating together around the campfire; Adair was surreptitiously sneaking bits of her food to the da’nan, and Eilath was playing a soft tune on his faolán. That was the instrument that Story had mistaken for a guitar earlier. From what she could see, it had eight strings, the top six being very much like a regular guitar’s, while the bottom two were very large and deep sounding.

She could pick out a tune on a guitar, but was far from skilled enough to even attempt adding two strings. Eilath made it look effortless and his fingers danced across the strings as if they were part of the instrument. In a way, she supposed, they were. He had made the faolán, and you could tell music was his passion.

Eirnin tugged gently on one of Story’s braids, drawing her away from her thoughts. “I sort of miss your old look. It was very… carefree.”

She elbowed him in the ribs lightly. “I can’t believe you let me walk into Stoneybrook looking like that, elf-boy.”

“How was I to know that wasn’t some traditional human way to wear your hair?”

She just shook her head at him and laughed. It felt good to laugh and to mean it. She felt light and airy. Safe and secure. Eilath smiled at her from across the fire and stood to pass the faolán to Adair.

“Why don’t you play us a song, little one? The da’nan have had plenty to eat.”

Adair looked up guiltily and hid her hands behind her, hastily cleaning them off on her sarong before reaching out to take the instrument from her father. For once she was tongue-tied, embarrassed at being caught.

He smiled down at her kindly and tousled her brilliant red braids. “You know you’d be better at the faolán if you would swim less and practice more.” His voice was soft and lilting, like his music.

She made a face at him before retorting good-naturedly, “You’d be better at the faolán too Da, if you would spend less time making them and more time actually playing them.”

Everyone laughed, and Eilath patted his daughter on her shoulder before returning to his seat. Turning his eyes back to Story, she noticed that apart from the first time they met, his eyes seemed to remain a steady shade of greenish-blue, whereas Eirnin’s were constantly flickering and sifting through colors on their liquid silver canvas.           

“And now, my new friend, we need to discuss your situation,” Eilath said as he settled down comfortably.

Story sat up straight and looked at Eirnin, who wouldn’t meet her eyes. “What did Eirnin tell you?”

Eilath held up his hands in a calming gesture. “I’m not looking to sacrifice you either, if that’s what you’re worried about. I would like to see you safely home.”

Story eyed him suspiciously, forcing herself to distrust this kind elf. “Why?”

Eilath looked confused. “I’m afraid I don’t understand the question?”

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